It’s here. The day that I’ve been wishing away since the day Owen was born. The day I put on my heels and head back into work. Just one more day, one more week, one more month with my little guy before reality sets in, please? I have such mixed feelings about today that I don’t even know how to feel.
Let’s start with the positives, shall we? Otherwise I might cry. For one thing, I am incredibly proud of myself for returning to work. I have studied and trained and put a lot of time and effort into building my career; I didn’t get that Masters degree for nothing! Although my job is not “the one” I always dreamed of (yet!), it uses my skills well, and I am good at it. And I am happy that I can maintain that professional, hard-working, strategic-thinking side of myself while still being a great mom. I’m also a little excited to get back to the hustle and bustle of my workday. I used to thrive on waking up early, getting to work early, working my tail off, rushing to the gym, getting my sweat on, and coming home to make dinner and relax with Benjamin. Accomplishing so much every day made me feel like Superwoman. Although it may take a few weeks or a few months to get back into the swing of things, I’m excited to change things up and get some of that let’s-go-get-’em energy back into my day.
I also think daycare will be an incredibly positive experience for Owen. I’ve visited our daycare a few times over the last few months, and each time I was so impressed with how much the teachers love the kids. When I was there last week, a 9 month old was taking his first steps. The teachers were standing around clapping, with tears of joy and pride in their eyes. I know that they will love Owen just as much, and that is a truly wonderful thing. He will get the opportunity to experience diversity and language and social interaction that I couldn’t possibly give him at home. He’ll learn how to nap and eat and play in new places and with new people, helping him become a flexible and easygoing kid.
On the flip side, it breaks my heart to know that I have to drop him off and turn around and walk out the door. I won’t be there when he cries for me. I won’t be there when his face lights up with his big gummy grin and he laughs that adorable little belly laugh. I won’t be the one to wake him up from his naps and cuddle him while he’s all warm in his sleep sack. I won’t be the one nuzzling his head while he drinks his bottle, or breathing in his sweet baby smell while he lays milk-drunk on my shoulder. I will, inevitably, miss out on things.
There are a few things I need to keep reminding myself:
- It’s only 3 days a week. I’m going to work 4 days a week (taking Mondays off), and Benjamin is going to work 4 days a week (taking Fridays off), so Owen will only be in daycare 3 days a week. So although it feels like I’m going to be missing him so much, it’s really only 3 days a week that he will not be at home. With Mama day and Daddy day and weekends, he’ll be at home more than he’ll be away.
- For better or for worse, Owen will never remember these days. He will never remember the day I left him at daycare. He will not be scarred for life. By the same token, he will never remember if I give up my career for him and stay home. He just won’t.
- Children are incredibly resilient. And flexible. Just think of how many different “schedules” he has gone through since he was born 5 short months ago. He will adapt to the new routine quickly and easily (probably more easily than I will!), and will never look back and wish for the good ol’ days.
I’m also feeling an overwhelming sense of thankfulness. I am so thankful that I was able to take such an extended maternity leave. I am thankful that my boss was so flexible and that we were able to swing some time without my paycheck. I’m thankful that Owen is such a calm, sweet, easy baby and that he’s sleeping so well. I’m thankful that I have put all of our breastfeeding issues to bed, and I can return to work unencumbered. I’m thankful that we found a daycare that I feel confident will take great care of Owen. I’m thankful to have a husband who has supported me over the last 5 months as a stay-at-home mom, and is now pushing me forward as I return to work.
And the best part is that we’re doing this transition in stages. Our daycare didn’t have a spot available for Owen until January 17th (even though we signed up when I was 18 weeks PREGNANT!!!), so Benjamin is doing Daddy daycare for the next two weeks to fill in the gap. Although this is kind of inconvenient for Benjamin’s business, I am happy that I don’t have to go back to work on the same day that we put Owen in daycare. At least for the next two weeks, I know he’ll be sticking to his regular routine at home with Daddy. It will also help Owen get used to being away from me, without overwhelming him with daycare right away.
So instead of thinking of this like the apocalypse, I’m going to think of it as just another change in our routine. Another stage. Another hurdle that we’ll both get over in no time. Wish me luck!